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3 inch lift kit aluminum for subaru measurement

Should you buy a 3 inch lift kit off Ebay or Amazon?

By Ben Boxer

I’ve been lifting Subarus for around ten years and I’ve seen a lot of products come and go over the years. But one thing that just won’t disappear from the message boards and forums is the infamous “3 inch aluminum Subaru lift kit.” There have been multiple brands making almost identical products and newcomers are quickly enticed by the extra inch of lift and low price.

However, this is one lift kit that I won’t install on any of my Subarus. Let me explain why.

Table of Contents

Lifting a Subaru isn't hard, but needs to be done right

There’s a lot of options out there for lift kits including:

  • Steel spacers
  • HDPE spacers
  • Billet aluminum spacers
  • Lower lift brackets
  • Spring lifts
  • Coilover lifts

My favorite lift type for almost every situation is a steel strut spacer. They’re strong, easy to install, and can be built with camber correction integrated into the design. Brands like Anderson Design & Fabrication, and RalliTEK are well known for having great camber correction built in to their steel spacers.

In most cases, spacer lifts over 1.5 inches also need to include the proper rear wheel alignment components. For older Subaru suspensions I always look for a lift kit that contains rear trailing arm spacers. On newer Subarus (Crosstrek, Forester, Outback etc that don’t have Macpherson struts in the rear) that have the multi link style suspension, I look for something with multi link spacers or sometimes referred to as rear subframe spacers. These spacers help keep the rear wheels properly aligned in the wheel well. Otherwise, your rear wheels will be pushed forward. This not only looks bad, but it negatively affects the handling and reduces the ability to run larger tires without contact against the fenders.

I also always look for something that is powder coated and has grade 8 or above hardware. If the hardware grade is not stated or if the company can’t tell me what grade it is, I don’t use their products.

How Subaru lift kits are measured

The industry standard for measuring Subaru lift kits is by the total height of the spacer. According to Patrick Anderson over at ADF, the amount of lift provided by the spacers “is a 1 to 1 ratio every time.” So for every 1 inch of lift spacer, you’ll receive 1 inch of added clearance.

There are a lot of brands out there stating that their lift kits are 3 inches but really aren’t. Some suspension types are subject to “compound ratios” when lifting that result in slightly more clearance than the physical dimensions of the lift. But with Subarus, that’s now how it works and if it did, that’s not how the industry leaders measure their lifts.

How tall ARE eBay lift kits?

I measured these aluminum lift spacers and they came out to less than 2 inches as you can see in the following picture.

3 inch lift kit aluminum for subaru measuring tape

Despite being advertised as a  3 inch lift kit, these spacers weren’t even a full two inches. This is frustrating considering that most newcomers are enticed by the idea that it’s the biggest lift kit available for the price. 

In reality, these lifts are actually smaller than most reputable lift kit brands out there. They also create many alignment issues.

Design flaws

One of the first things I noticed is that these lift spacers don’t have camber correction integrated into their design. This means that the wheels will have more positive camber than it should. You’ll notice that many Subarus using these lift kits have their wheels slightly angled in towards the bottom.

Having built-in camber correction is a must for me when I’m shopping for a lift kit that’s bigger than one inch.

I also noticed that the hardware felt cheap. The studs and washers both felt like lower grade pieces that wouldn’t last long. But I did some searching through the Subaru forums and Facebook groups. Within a few minutes, I found four comments from people who’d installed these kits. They said that the hardware physically sheared while driving. I firmly believe that good hardware is a must when it comes to your vehicle.

I look for grade 8 or higher when considering any hardware for my vehicles.

3 inch lift kit aluminum for subaru hardware closeup
3 inch lift kit studs installation

What should you buy instead?

There’s a lot of factors that go into determining if a brand is good. But a hard and fast rule that you can use if you’re not sure if a brand is good is to look and see if they are a “Subaru specific” company. Do they offer lift kits for almost exclusively Subarus? 

I like to look for companies that mainly deal with Subarus and have a vested interest in our community. In most cases, they produce a premium lift kit for our cars vs larger companies that have started to make Subaru kits.

Here is a short list of some really good companies that I would recommend to my own family:

  • Anderson Design & Fabrication
  • Primitive Racing
  • RalliTEK
  • LP Aventure

These are just a few of the great kits out there for lifting Subarus. But you can check out my lift kit article to see even more options for reputable Subaru lift kits HERE.

I always look for something that has good reviews and is heavy duty. If you’re going to go through the hassle of doing the installation, why not do it right the first time?

_three inch lift kit installation

Overall thoughts and hands-on video

I know it seems enticing to purchase something that’s “3 inches” and only costs $150. But please, do your research first and consider purchasing something that isn’t going to cause headaches down the road. Purchase a reputable lift kit for your Subaru.

Using genuine high quality lift kits on my cars has made me exponentially happier than any time I have tried to save a buck on cheap parts.

I created a video showing these lift kits and discussing some helpful tips when choosing your lift kit. This hands-on video should give you a good idea of how these kits actually look.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about getting into the offroad Subaru hobby, feel free to send us an email through the contact page.

YouTube video

2 thoughts on “I Bought An eBay 3 Inch Subaru Lift: Should You Buy One?”

  1. I can attest to the lack of quality in the hardware on this style of lift. I had all three studs on my right rear spacer break off when I had my Subaru out on a trail in CO. I didn’t feel like I had even been that hard on the car and everything had been torqued properly during install. Managed to get it home and ordered a different kit the next day.

    You’re spot on with the rear wheel alignment as well. I had to purchase trailing arm spacers for my Forester to fix it.
    Thanks for all the articles on the site. Enjoying the feature articles!

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